fredag 25 april 2008

Laissez Faire economics

The term laissez faire was first used in relation to economics by the French Phyiocrats Quesnay and Turgot in the eighteenth century, when they used the motto "laissez faire, laissez allez" to describe the principles they advocated.

This is said to have come from the cry used in medieval tournaments to give the signal for combat; the equivalent in English is "a fair field and no favours".

The Physiocrats believed in freedom of opinion, freedom of the individual and freedom of exchange, and the last of these freedoms, they argued, could only be achieved in the absence of government intervention.

Physiocrats, however, also pointed out the need to abolish all taxes except a tax on the value of land; this is implicit in the concept of freedom of exchange. It is unfortunate that this aspect of laissez faire has been almost totally ignored by both its advocates and its attackers. The tax on the value of land was the "impôt unique" or single tax. Without it, laissez faire is one-legged and cannot work. But, as Chesterton said of Christianity, laissez faire hasn't failed - it has never been tried.

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